Most Improved Phil Jones Gives Man United Added Balance At The Back

Injuries can ruin careers and set players back a level or two. That seemed to be the case with Phil Jones at Manchester United.

In the last two seasons he struggled for game time. As soon as he got back to full fitness and into the Man United first team he’d seem to pick up another injury and be back to square one. He’d then comeback again and seem rusty, struggling to get back into the swing of things.

At a certain time last season it seemed as though he’d be better off leaving Old Trafford and seeking a new home to build himself back up again.

But this season has saw Jones back to his best as he has regained his fitness and his composure at the back.

Playing alongside Eric Bailly has given the Red Devils strength, reliability and added balance.

When Bailly missed the recent 0-0 draw with Liverpool, Chris Smalling came in and he too looked strong in beside Phil and that is a big compliment.

He’s played in all United’s Premier League games this season, they’ve so far remained unbeaten and have only conceded twice (the best record in England’s top flight). Jones has made around two key interceptions on average per game and has a highly impressive ninety-two percent passing success rate.

Jones is once again looking like England’s best defender. His impressive form has seen the central defender back in Gareth Southgate’s England squad and if he stays fit you’d imagine that he’ll be in the starting eleven in next summer’s World Cup.

The twenty-five year old (yes he’s really just twenty-five!) is a player who can play from the back, put in strong tackle and offers leadership from the backline. He also offers versatility to play as a back-up right back or as a defensive midfielder if needed. Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho likes leaders and players who can offer options and that’s probably why Jones has been reportedly offered a new deal at the club.

Mourinho has been impressed with Jone this term and just hopes to keep him fit:

“If we manage to have him safe and protected from injuries, I think potentially he’s everything I like in a central defender.”

That’s the thing, if Manchester United can have Phil Jones in their side week in and week out, then they will have a stronger team and challenge for the league title. Fingers crossed he can stay fit because no one wants to see a player continually succumb to a so many injury problems.

 

Interesting Times Ahead With Steve Clarke At Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock FC’s start to the season was iffy to say the least and they decided to let rookie boss Lee McCulloch go and bring in a replacement.

The board at Rugby Park have been ambitious in their recruitment and have brought in Steve Clarke.

After a trophy laden playing career with Chelsea the Scot has worked with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Rudd Gullit, Gianfranco Zola  and Kenny Dalglish. His defensive coaching was particularly appreciated by those he worked for.

Clarke was given the opportunity to make his own name in management when he was named the head coach of West Bromwich Albion in 2012.

In his one full season in charge at the Hawthorns, Clarke often impressed in the dugout and guided the club to eighth place with a points total of forty-nine points. He managed to use his Chelsea contacts to bring in Romelu Lukaku on loan and the Belgian striker scored seventeen goals.

During his West Brom tenure Clarke saw his side record victories over Manchester United, Liverpool (twice), Everton and Southampton. 

He endured a tough start to his second season and he also fell out with then West Brom owner Jeremy Peace. He was relieved of his duties in November 2013, with Steve believing he was a victim of his own early success and that he deserved more time.

Clarke would get another chance as his own boss at Reading in December 2014 but only lasted a year. In that year he enjoyed a 35% win percentage ratio. He also watched on as he Reading reached their first FA Cup semi-final  in eighty-eight years.

Fulham were taken with Clarke and approached Reading to bring him back to London in November 2015. Steve flirted with the idea before turning down the opportunity. The Royals support weren’t convinced by their gaffer talking to Fulham and after a run of poor results, Clarke once again received his marching orders.

I think Clarke has been a bit unlucky when he’s managed clubs. The fifty-four year old has a great coaching pedigree and has been affected by circumstances rather than anything else.

To be honest, I’d have loved Clarke to be in the running for the Scotland job or at least brought in to be part of the coaching team. He is well disciplined and gets teams to play with a good structure.

Kilmarnock now have a boss with experience and a great CV. They seem to have a boss determined to see the club progress:

“I’m looking forward to working with the board, staff, players and supporters to ensure future success at the club.”

Clarke has experience working with top youngsters down south. That should be a great thing for the Ayrshire club as they have some terrific talented young Scottish players in their squad. These gifted youthful stars need game time, a guiding hand to teach them and to be allowed time to flourish. Hopefully the likes of Adam Frizzell, Greg Kiltie, Greg Taylor and Calum Waters will continue to develop working with their new manager giving them a chance.

The mix of young and old in the squad will hopefully benefit Steve as he looks to guide the side away from the relegation zone.

The Scottish game is bringing people like Clarke and Owen Coyle back to our top flight and I think that’s another sign that our league is on the up. People will state that they failed in England but I think that’s unfair, especially in Clarke’s case. I also think Coyle might get positive results at Ross County.

Interim boss Paul McDonald stated that the new gaffer had an immediate impact as he watched Killie beat Partick Thistle last weekend:

“The new manager gave the players a pep talk before the game at our pre-match meal and it worked wonders.”

It’s always hard to to get rid of a manager but at least Kilmarnock have been ambitious in getting in a high quality replacement, one that might just bring some much needed fresh air and he could even improve the calibre of the Scottish game.

Scotland: Standard Strachan, Predictable SFA & Unwanted Mackay

I thought I’d leave all the Scotland stuff for a week and let the Slovenia result sink in. Obviously a lot has happened since that poor second half performance in Ljubljana.

Most notably has been the departure of Scotland manager Gordon Strachan and we aren’t going to the World Cup next summer.

Many a fan and many a pundit seemed to either love or hate Strachan.

For me? Well I always had mixed feelings about him. He did some things really well and got some fantastic results against the likes of Slovakia, Ireland and Croatia. He eventually got the best out of Leigh Griffiths up-top. The boss would also take the blame for poor results and deflect anything away from his players, which is admirable.

You also have to remember that during his tenure, at no time did Strachan have an international class centre-back to put into his squad or first eleven. So he did have a tough task on his hands.

But on the other hand Gordon would make some bizarre team and squad selections and he also made comments that would leave you scratching your head. Poor results against Lithuania and Georgia cost the Scots big time in two qualifying campaigns.

His excuses, like the genetics one last week, were dire and didn’t hold up when you look at countries like Spain and Portugal who had similar sized players. We weren’t good enough and we didn’t have the right mentality in certain games and that ultimately let us down.

The time is right for Gordon to step aside and let a new voice come in and try something different with the pool of players available to us. Strachan wasn’t great but he also wasn’t terrible, he was average and we need to search for an improvement.

The SFA in their wisdom have decided to stick Performance Director Malky Mackay in charge for the friendly against the Netherlands next month.

I absolutely hate this appointment. Make no mistake, this is an audition for Malky and he’d drop the performance director role in a heartbeat to take the top job for the national team.

He supposedly has an important job already and he shouldn’t get distracted with a return to the dugout. Usually in these cases a coach (like Tommy Burns previously) or the Under 21 gaffer (like Gareth Southgate did with England) takes the job on an interim basis. Not sure why you go for someone who has essentially been in football administration for the last eleven months.

Then we have the obvious when it comes to Malky Mackay.

The forty-five year old was fired from Cardiff City for making sexist, racist and bigoted comments. There was evidence that proved it and the man admitted to certain charges that were aimed at him.

The SFA have sacked personnel in the past for making similar ‘jokes/comments’ in the past. Now they have placed a man who has admitted to making racial slurs as their national team boss, even if it’s just in a temporary basis, and that’s become a very controversial decision.

We need the fans to get behind the national team, I seriously doubt having Mackay anywhere near it will keep the Tartan Army happy.

Scotland’s Football Association should be doing everything in it’s power to attract all fans to Hampden. They should want to see more kids, more females and people from every ethnic background in the stands singing Flower of Scotland. Will that happen with Malky in charge? I doubt it.

Malky’s career as a manager isn’t actually that good to be honest. His best stint as a number one came at Cardiff and we know how that ended. He did Ok before that at Watford but was woeful at Wigan Athletic. He certainly hasn’t got a CV that suggests he should be an international boss.

The SFA don’t really care about the fans though, or that’s certainly how it comes across. They charge us premium prices for tickets, strips and even our games are all on subscription TV channels. Yet our men’s national team hasn’t qualified for a major tournament since 1998.

Plus even though we haven’t progressed in recent years, we still have the same Chief Executive in Stewart Regan. Surely that’s unusual. Especially when you consider the amount of negative press that the SFA have received in those years and yet he seems completely oblivious to any sort of recrimination.

The SFA has always had that old boys club vibe to it and unfortunately it still does. Don’t get me wrong they have some fantastic staff at Hampden but the higher up you go the longer they’ve been there and the less connection they have with the average punter.

At the moment supporting Scotland is a tough task and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier any time soon.

By the way, David Moyes you can get lost. The Scotland job should be something you aspire to get, not something you accept because there’s nothing else out there for you.

 

Jose Mourinho & Man United Will Be Happy With Stalemate At Liverpool

Manchester United didn’t have the best of games at Anfield against Liverpool today but Jose Mourinho will be chuffed that they still managed to secure an away point at such a tough venue.

The Portuguese boss knows that his side need to keep their unbeaten run going in the English Premier League as they challenge for the title. Obviously they can’t win every game but not losing on a rival’s patch is almost as useful for United in terms of keeping morale high.

It was a difficult task as Jurgen Klopp’s men were desperate for a positive result to kick-start their own league campaign. Liverpool also have a terrific record against the top six sides under the German.

Man Utd didn’t look entirely comfortable when they had the ball and failed numerous times to make too many successful passes. The Red Devils also failed to create too many chances, their best fell to hot-shot striker Romelu Lukaku but the Belgian hitman failed to take that opportunity. After that Man United struggled to get past a stern Liverpool side.

Defensively Jose’s men looked better and stuck to their task of frustrating the Liverpool attack. Mohamed Salah’s pace was a threat but when they doubled up on him, you could see him running out of ideas.

Having a world class goalkeeper in David De Gea obviously helps and his first half save to prevent Joel Matip a sure goal was magnificent. The Spaniard’s consistent top class performances must reassure his defence and give them a major confidence boost.

The goalless draw keeps United top of the league, although Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will have a chance to regain top spot if they beat Stoke City later on this afternoon, and it’s now eight Premier League games without suffering from a defeat.

Liverpool bossed this encounter and won most of the stat battles but in the end the Manchester United team and their gaffer will be the happier club with this result and it will keep confidence high at Old Trafford and they’ll be expecting to return to winning ways in their next fixture.

We will only find out at the end of the season just how important this result is going to be for Man Utd but getting results when not at your best is usually the sign of champions.

Guess The Player: Liverpool Or Manchester United?

The derby between Liverpool and Manchester United is just one of the many games that fans can place a bet on the Betfair football odds market over the weekend. Despite hundreds of games being played all across the country, all eyes will be focused on the North-West derby.
 
Over the years, fans have had the pleasure of seeing some of the world’s best players’ play in the kits of their teams. Although the clubs may not be at the heights they have previously been, they currently have some of the biggest talents in the league. World stars like Paul Pogba and Philippe Coutinho are arguably the two stars of each team, and will be expected to put on a performance like former Liverpool and Manchester United players have in former derby games.
 
Some of these players who have played and performed well in these matches have gone on to become ‘cult heroes’ and even legends at their clubs. For those that have been paying attention to both clubs over the years, there have been a lot of famous players who have played for the clubs. How many can you recognise in this quiz?

 

A Look At All The Trophies Liverpool And Manchester United Have Won

Manchester United and Liverpool are the two most successful English football clubs and each have enjoyed a prolonged spell of dominance at the top of the English game. It was back in the 1970’s and 80’s when Liverpool enjoyed their best period, while for Manchester United, their most dominant period came in the 1990’s and 2000’s under Sir Alex Ferguson.

At the end of the 2012/13 season Sir Alex Ferguson retired as Manchester United, signing off by winning the Premier League. Since then, United have hired and fired both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal and are currently being led by Jose Mourinho, a manager who really knows how to win. United have started the season incredibly well, sitting in 2nd place behind cross-town rivals Manchester City, but only on goal difference.

Liverpool have had manager Jurgen Klopp in charge, since October 2015, but he has been unable to bring any silverware back to Merseyside so far. The German took over from Brendan Rodgers, who despite not being liked by much of the fan base, was able to guide the club to 2nd place in the 2013/14 season. The club currently sit in 7th place and despite being the home team in their home clash with Manchester United on the 14th October, with the form United are in, a bet on United is likely to be more popular.

Ahead of their lunch time kick-off we have taken a look at the trophies both clubs have won under both Mourinho’s and Klopp’s predecessors.

At the end of the 2008/09 season, Manchester United finally drew level with Liverpool on 18 top division titles before finally over taking them by winning the Premier League for a 12th time in the 2010/11 seasons. The current record stands at 20, with United being able to add the 2012/13 title to their record, however if second division titles are included then both of the clubs are on 22 league titles, as Liverpool have won second division two titles compared to Manchester United’s 2.

Liverpool may have lost the bragging rights over the domestic top division but they can still brag about their success when it comes to European titles. Manchester United can only claim 6 European titles compared to Liverpool’s 11, although United have experienced more success in recent years. Liverpool’s 11 trophies consist of 5 European Cup wins, the most recent being the 2004/05 victory, when the club beat AC Milan on penalties in the final. The club have also won 3 UEFA Cups and 3 European Super Cups. Manchester United on the other hand have won the European Cup only 3 times, the latest being in 2007/08 on penalties against Chelsea, 1 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 European Super Cup and the 2016/17 Europa League.

In terms of domestic cup successes Manchester United have bragging rights in the FA Cup but not in the League Cup. Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign as United manager between 1986 and 2013 saw the club win 5 of their 12 FA Cup victories although their most recent FA Cup success was in 2015/16 under Dutch manager Louis van Gaal. Liverpool meanwhile have won the trophy 7 times, most recently against West Ham United in a penalty shootout in the 2005/06 season under Rafa Benitez.

On top of the 12 FA Cup successes, United have managed to win the English League Cup 5 times, most recently in the 2016/17, completing a double for Jose Mourinho in his first season in charge of the club. Liverpool have won the competition more, with a record 8 victories although the last time was in 2012 under Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish.

Interestingly, the Community Shield has been shared by both clubs on 3 occasions; in 1965, 1977 and most recently 1990. This was the penultimate time that the trophy could be shared as extra time and penalties were brought in to decide the result. Liverpool won the trophy a total of 15 times, 5 of those were shared victories. United have the record for the most times won, as they have won it 21 times, 17 of those being triumphs while the other 4 were shared. The only other team to share the Community Shield with United was Tottenham back in 1967.

In international club competitions they have both played once in the FIFA Club World Cup, with Liverpool playing in the 2005 competition and finishing as runners-up to Brazilian club Sao Paulo. United were more successful than their North-West rivals when they took park in the 2008 competition, seeing off Ecuadorian club LDU Quito in the final in Japan.

Although both clubs have had an enviable amount of success, on the 14th October Jurgen Klopp will be looking to get the better of Jose Mourinho and dent their title hopes. United’s form suggests that they are likely to have the upper hand, but Anfield is never an easy place to travel to, so be prepared for a tight and potentially fiery match

Goodbye My Old Friend!

Today I unfortunately have to write one of the saddest blog posts I’ll ever have to write.

This week my wife’s father, William Murdoch Thomas, passed away at the age of eighty. He was a great man, much loved by his friends and family.

Now why am I writing about William or Billy as I knew him? Well he loved football and not in a way we all associate with these days.

I love football, I have done all my life but Billy found ways to enjoy his football that put me to shame.

Billy would read his newspapers everyday, so he kept up to date with everything. He wouldn’t have been fond of Gordon Strachan’s genetic excuses for Scotland failing to qualify for the World Cup. I can imagine him stating that they weren’t good enough and that was that.

His team of choice was Partick Thistle. His grandson, Owen, bought him a Jags car scarf that he proudly displayed in his Land Rover. While going through his stuff we managed to find various Partick Thistle scarves and ties.

Although he didn’t go to many games at Firhill recently, he loved talking about them both past teams as well as present. He was a Glaswegian that couldn’t hide his hatred for any bigoted nonsense that would sometimes hinder our city.

Like many of his generation, Billy hated the amount of money that flows in and out of the game these days. You should’ve seen him this summer when I told him the fee Manchester United paid for Romelu Lukaku. I’m pretty sure he rolled his eyes and let out a ‘Jesus Christ!’.

Man United were another team William was fond of. The main reason for this was Sir Alex Ferguson. Like Fergie, Billy was a Govan boy and he loved that a fellow Govan graduate was able to be successful and he enjoyed the way his teams played.

Billy also idolised Denis Law. He’d often say:

I don’t care about Elvis or Dalglish, Denis Law was the real King!’.

He would often tell me how magical Law was and how he was Scotland’s greatest forward. You could see the passion in Billy’s eyes as he discusses Denis, he’d get excitedly animated and I was always keen to listen and take it all in. Even in his final days William was still reading his Denis Law autobiography.

Now why was Billy a bit different with his love of the game? 

Well firstly he would take Owen to most of his games. Owen has always played for a team and it would be Billy that would drive him to training and his games.

William loved watching Owen play. He’d often critique his grandson and add praise when it was merited. Talking to Billy about Own you could see how proud he was of him and that he thought he was a good footballer, who worked hard and gave his all for his team. The fact Owen was passionate about playing created a huge bond between the two. Billy would much rather watch his grandson than sit at the TV and watch the professional game.

Billy was also interested in whatever club Owen was playing for and all of his teammates. Some got slagged off and couldn’t beat the ‘blind asylum’, others really impressed him and he’d say one would often remind him of Billy Bremner (I think being wee and ginger helped).

Billy also liked that Owen and his longtime school friend Tony were a good defensive partnership. He’d tell you that they had a good understanding and complimented each other.

See that’s the thing, Billy didn’t just turn up and drop off Owen, nor did he just watch out of politeness. He got actively involved and supported all of the players, even the opposition.

William also loved taking the dogs, Clyde and Miller, out.

On Saturdays he’d take them to the local playing fields and watch the games there. That’s what I loved about the man, he didn’t need to watch aesthetically pleasing football to be happy (although he did like the Dutch total football sides and Barcelona), he could watch any game at any level to be content with his life.

Now I think a big part of that was down to the fact that he felt part of it. He’d know the teams and would speak to the coaches and substitutes during the game. He kept score, would judge who the better team was and who the best players were. Then he’d tell me or Owen or whomever would listen about the match he’d watched that weekend.

One hazard of taking dogs to the game was that one would no doubt enter the field, more often than not it would be my dog Miller. This would create a fuss, with the footballers understandably peeved that their game had to be stopped as an out of control Cocker Spaniel danced around them gleefully.

Calls of ‘Get yir dug on a lead’ would be bellowed out, followed by a quick witted reply from Billy stating Why? He’s the best player on the park!.

The churches league often impressed William as they’s respect the referee and it would contain little to no ‘Effin and jeffin!

There are many reasons why I loved Billy. But in all honestly, he showed me that football doesn’t start and end with the elite sides. Yes you can appreciate them but never forget the grass roots. Also remember that your family means more than any game and just embrace life.

Before every alcoholic beverage Billy would toast ‘Here’s to the first of the day!’, even if that was indeed your third or fourth of the day.

So here’s to your first of the day William Thomas, you were a great man! You have a wonderful family and I’ll do my upmost to look after them and follow your fine example!

Chelsea Sweating Over N’Golo Kante

Chelsea are going to have to deal with the next few games without Frenchman N’Golo Kante in their  midfield.

The key holding midfielder was one of the club’s star turns last term as the ‘Blues’ romped home to the Premier League title.

But during the international break the ball winning central midfielder suffered from a hamstring injury while representing the French national team as they managed to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

It seems as though N’Golo might now miss a few weeks of action.

Only last month, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte came out in the press and discussed how vital Kante was to his team:

‘N’Golo is very important for us – a top player,’

 ‘It was an amazing performance. He played a really fantastic game.’

Now Tiemoue Bakayoko is a great all-round midfielder but Antonio likes playing with two players who can show defensive discipline in the engine room.

Conte will probably have to ask Bakayoko to sit more and have either Cesc Fabregas or Danny Drnkwater come in and play in beside him. That will still give them a softer centre than they’re used to. New signing Drinkwater and veteran Fabregas are better on the ball than they are at winning tackles.

I’d imagine that Conte would favour using the Spanish international primarily as Drinkwater has still to recover from a calf problem.

Another option for the Italian coach could be to move central defender David Luiz further forward. The Brazilian is actually fairly decent in that role. He frequently played in that position during Rafa Benitez’s short tenure at Stamford Bridge a few years back.

Luiz is good with the ball at his feet, has a great range of passing, possesses good vision, can tackle and intercepts the ball which can protect those playing in behind him. The thirty year old does have the ability to lose concentration at important times.

It should be noted that the eccentric star played in that role superbly well in the Blues win against rivals Tottenham Hotspur, earlier in the campaign.

Conte may feel that he can keep Luiz at the back against Crystal Palace this weekend. The Eagles have still to record a goal and secure a point in the league so far this term. So having a more creative talent in Cesc pulling the strings from a deeper position could be for the better in this particular fixture.

But if Kante misses the Champions League clash with Roma on Wednesday, then maybe Luiz will play in the holding role in that game.

The Chelsea support will hope that they don’t suffer anymore injuries in the immediate future. Conte warned his board that they needed more personnel in his pool. At the moment the squad is looking a bit weaker but maybe it’s time to use more of the clubs top academy players.

Selling defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic to fellow title challengers Manchester United always seemed odd and they could’ve done with another new player to help in the engine room.

Chelsea will hope that they don’t lose anymore ground to Man United and Manchester City but for that to happen they’ll be keen to get the ever so reliable N’Golo Kante back in his position sitting in front of the defence and protecting his backline as only he can!

Can Man United Gazump Man City And Take Alexis Sanchez In January?

In January, Alexis Sanchez will enter the last six months of his Arsenal contract. That means the winter transfer window will be the Gunner’s last opportunity to recoup any cash for their star player.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was adamant in the summer that he wouldn’t sell the Chilean international and while that proved to be correct as he did indeed stay, it was widely reported that Manchester City were close to signing the player in the last week of the transfer window. 

Could City’s failure to sign their supposed top target come back to hunt them?

No doubt Pep Guardiola will come back in for the forward in January but will city and title rivals Manchester United compete for Sanchez signature come the winter?

Jose Mourinho will have various reasons for keeping tabs on the situation.

Firstly, Alexis Sanchez is a world class talent and Man United are always interested in players who can play at the highest level and make an impact.

Then there’s the fact that the attacker can play out wide, through the middle or in behind a top striker like Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Jose loves a player who brings plenty of versatility to his squads. United were desperate to bring in another wide-man with Ivan Perisic heavily linked with the Red Devils back in the summer months. Sanchez would also offer up valuable English top flight experience.

Sanchez has a great skill-set and has the ability to change the biggest of fixtures. Yes he can be a bit many but I think that’s because he has a huge passion for the game and wants to win everything. Last term the Chilean dynamo scored twenty-four Premier League goals and ten assists, what team wouldn’t want that type of impact star in their team?

Another plus could be the price, with his deal running out and Alexis clearly stating that he won’t sign a new contract at the Emirates. That could mean that Arsenal might be tempted to sell. But unfortunately for the Gunners they can’t command the same fee they could have last year or even in the summer. A potential suitor might be able to get Sanchez for £20m-£25m if Wenger agrees to sell.

Finally, a huge plus point in Jose’s eyes could be getting one over Pep and City. At the moment it seems as though the league title will be a straight fight between the two Manchester clubs. United might look at signing Sanchez as not only improving their squad but also weakening Guardiola’s title ambitions. It could be seen as United once again shutting up their noisy neighbour.

There could be a few stumbling points if Mourinho and the Man United hierarchy decide to test Arsenal’s resolve in January.

After a disappointing start to the season the Gunners have regrouped and currently sit in fifth place in the league table, only goal difference keeps them out of the Champions League places. If that remains the case in early 2018, then I doubt they’ll want to sell their best player (even if he kicks up another fuss!). The hit they’ll take in losing Alexis for nothing next summer will be softened substantially if they regain a place in next season’s Champions League.

You then have to remember the bitter grudge that exists between Arsenal boss Wenger and United gaffer Mourinho. I seriously doubt the Frenchman would want to help Mourinho to a league crown by handing over such a talented player in Sanchez.

Although interestingly Jose gave the North London club and Wenger special praise in the summer:

“I think Mr Wenger got exactly what every manager wants. A strong club, two more years of contract and conditions to try to win titles. Fantastic treatment from the Arsenal board. That is what he deserves and that is what every manager wants.”

Man City won’t sit back and let Man Utd have a free run at Sanchez. The recent injury to Sergio Aguero shows why Pep wanted the forward to head north in the first place, so that need is only greater now. City will probably go out and match any United offer, they’ll then use Pep’s previous relationship with the forward and their long interest in him as a way of convincing him that he should join the Citizens.

I believe that both United and City will try and sign Alexis Sanchez to a Bosman deal in early January. Once he agrees to join one of them (or another side), then I’d fully expect the winning team to go all out in trying to persuade Arsenal to sell him early.

Whether or not that happens, remains to be seen. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Manchester clubs vying for his signature in the hope that the Chilean maestro can help bring them the Premier League trophy come May!

 

Ya Dancer! Scotland Keep The World Cup Dream Alive!

Another late winner for Scotland has kept their World Cup dream alive and now we have our fate in our own hands.

The Tartan Army support at Hampden roared the team home and in truth the Scots fully deserved the result as they bossed much of the game.

Slovakia made their own job difficult with Robert Mak seeing a second yellow followed by a red for a late foul and then a blatant dive on the twenty-third minute.

Many of us in Scotland would have thought it wasn’t our night as Slovak keeper Martin Dubravka made great save after great save. We also had a couple of chances come back off the woodwork. We have seen this too many times before and not received the result we deserved.

Scotland’s tempo would then drop as did our defensive line but then we’d go again. The high pressing in much of the game was very impressive.

We have a much maligned defence but this was a third clean sheet in a row and Christophe Berra and Charlie Mulgrew seem to have a good understanding with each other. Long may that continue.

Players like Barry Bannan, Andrew Robertson and Matt Phillips kept running and gave their all. That’s what we need in this crucial games.

Leigh Griffiths is fast becoming an international class striker. He held the ball up well, pressed the opposition defenders and would run into the channels with good effect. Unlucky when he saw his free kick come back off the bar!

The forward was determined when on the ball and that led to our goal as he prodded a pass forward into the path of substitute Ikechi Anya who saw his cross find its way past the Slovak keeper due to an intervening touch from Martin Skrtel.

Hampden screamed, rejoiced and danced as our men in pink allowed us to dream once again. The team then held on and relief reigned as the full time whistle rang out.

I have criticised Scotland boss Gordon Strachan a few times in this campaign, and rightly so in my opinion, but fair play to him for his selection, tactics and the subs he made tonight.

The players worked their socks off and played till the very end! The lads certainly played for their manager as well as their nation and we appreciate that.

Subs Anya and Chris Martin both did extremely well for the goal. Martin also offered a nice physical presence in the second half which the Slovakian side struggled to deal with.

Now we need to go to Slovenia and grab all three points on offer there. Do that and we can look forward to a play-off spot. Maybe then we can forget about the last eighteen years of pain and look forward to going to another World Cup! Mind those days?

Please Scotland try and score early, I am not sure my heart can take another late winner but I’ll accept that rather than slipping up at the final hurdle yet again.

Let’s go again SCOTLAND!!! Let’s complete the job!